Oregon Murder Laws

The most serious form of homicide in the state of Oregon is murder. Many states divide the severity of the crime into first- and second-degree murder laws, but in Oregon, there is only murder and aggravated murder. Aggravated murder carries heavier penalties and includes murder in addition something extra which makes it a more serious crime.

An example of murder in Oregon is killing another person while committing a violent crime such as arson or rape. An example of aggravated murder, on the other hand, is killing another person while committing arson and the murderer has a prior conviction for murder or manslaughter. The following is a brief summary of Oregon's murder laws.

Oregon Murder Laws:

The following table outlines murder laws in Oregon.

Code Sections OR. REV. STAT. §§ 163.115, 163.095
What’s Prohibited?

Murder consists of causing the death of another person while committing, attempting to commit, acting in furtherance, or fleeing from any of the following crimes:

  • Arson in the first degree
  • Criminal mischief in the first degree by means of an explosive device
  • Burglary in the first degree
  • Escape in the first degree
  • Kidnapping
  • Robbery in the first degree
  • Felony sexual offense in the first degree
  • Compelling prostitution
  • Assault (first and second degree) and the victim is under 14 years old
  • Abuse and the person recklessly, in a way that shows extreme indifference to the value of human life, causes the death of a child under 14 years of age or a dependent person and has a prior history of assault or torture of the victim, another child under 14 years of age, or another dependent person
  • Abuse and the person recklessly, in a way that shows extreme indifference to the value of human life, causes death of a child under 14 years of age or dependent person through neglect or maltreatment

Aggravated murder consists of murder (see above) in addition to any of the following:

  • Committing or soliciting another person to commit murder in exchange for money or other thing of value
  • A prior conviction of murder or first-degree manslaughter (or other conviction with the same criminal elements)
  • The murder occurred during or as a result of intentional maiming or torture
  • More than one person in the same episode was murdered
  • The victim was under 14 years of age
  • The victim was a police, correctional, parole, probation, or judicial officer, juror or witness, court employee or officer, state board of parole or post prison supervision member, or liquor enforcement inspector acting in the course of their duties
  • The murder ocurred while the defendant was in prison or custody
  • The murder was committed by using an explosive device while committing theft in the first degree
  • The murder was committed to conceal a crime or a perpetrator's identity
  • The murder was personally and intentionally committed while committing, attempting to committ, acting in the furtherance, or fleeing from any of the cirmes listed under murder (see above)
  • The murder was committed after escaping from and before being returned to custody of a penal or correctional facility
Defenses

The person, without duress or deception, was causing or aiding the person to commit suicide. (The defendant may still be charged with manslaughter or any other crime.)

The person was under the influence of an extreme emotional disturbance. (The person may still be charged with manslaughter.)

If the victim was a dependent person at least 18 years of age and died as a result of spiritual care or treatment pursuant to the dependent person or guardian's religion, then there is no murder through neglect or maltreatment.

Penalties

Murder is punishable by life imprisonment if the person was at least 15 years of age when the murder was committed. The minimum term for life imprisonment is 25 years, at which point the prisoner can petition for a hearing on the likelihood of rehabilitation within a reasonable amount of time. A favorable finding can lead to early prison release.

Aggravated murder and murder of a pregnant victim with knowledge of the pregnancy s punishable by death, life imprisonment without parole or life imprisonment. The minimum term for life imprisonment is 30 years, at which time the prisoner can petition for a hearing on the likelihood of rehabilitation within a reasonable amount of time.

Oregon Murder Laws: Related Resources

If you are in need of legal assistance, you may want to contact an Oregon criminal defense attorney. You may also want to visit Findlaw's sections on Oregon Capital Punishment Laws for more information on the death penalty in Oregon. You can also visit Findlaw's sections on First Degree Murder Overview, First Degree Murder Penalties and Sentencing, Second Degree Murder Overview, and Second Degree Penalties and Sentencing for more general information on this topic.

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